Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
Bela Fleck returns to Toronto with The Original Flecktones (Victor Wooten, Futureman and Howard Levy)
Born and raised in New York City, Béla began his musical career playing the guitar. In the early 1960's, while watching the Beverly Hillbillies, the bluegrass sounds of Flatt & Scruggs flowed out of the TV set and into his young brain. Earl Scruggs's banjo style hooked Béla's interest immediately. "It was like sparks going off in my head" he later said.
It wasn't until his grandfather bought him a banjo in September of '73, that it became his full time passion. That week, Béla entered New York City's, High School of Music and Art. He began studies on the French horn but was soon demoted to the chorus, due his lack of musical aptitude. Since the banjo wasn't an offered elective at Music & Art, Béla sought lessons through outside sources. Erik Darling, Marc Horowitz, and Tony Trischka stepped up and filled the job. Béla joined his first band, "Wicker's Creek" during this period. Living in NYC, Béla was exposed to a wide variety of musical experiences.. One of the most impressive was a concert by "Return to Forever" featuring Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. This concert encouraged further experimenting with bebop and jazz on the banjo and he never looked back
The original Flectones were born when Béla and Howard Levy crossed paths at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Next came a phone call from a friend who wanted to introduce him to an amazing bass player. Victor Lemonte Wooten played some licks on the phone for Béla and the second connection was made. Howard and Victor signed on but the group still lacked a drummer. The search was on for an unusual drummer/percussionist. Victor offered up his brother Roy Wooten, later to become known as FutureMan. Roy was developing the Drumitar (Drum - Guitar), it was then in its' infancy. A MIDI trigger device, the Drumitar allowed FutureMan to play the drums with his fingers triggering various sampled sounds. Their first album was released in 1990, dubbed a"blu-bop" mix of jazz and bluegrass, and soon became a commercially successful disc. The album was Grammy nominated, and their second recording "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo" followed suit. Howard Levy toured and recorded with the Flecktones till the end of 1992.
The recipient of Multiple Grammy Awards going back to 1998, Béla Flecks' total Grammy count is 11 Grammys won, and 27 nominations. He has been nominated in more different categories than anyone in Grammy history.